Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups has received increasing criticism over the past month as his team has spiraled through a 3-9 record following the NBA All-Star break...they exact time they hoped to make a run towards the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Portland fans have grown increasingly restless, offering critiques and even calls for Billups’ dismissal.
This morning Jason Quick of The Athletic published comments from Billups and his players [subscription required] in a piece covering the controversy.
Billups’ own comments provided the backbone of the article. Quick asked Billups directly if he feared for his job at this juncture. The coach indicated it wasn’t a consideration.
Before the game, Billups told The Athletic he had no fears of losing his job, based on his frequent communication with general manager Joe Cronin. “I don’t worry about that, at all,” Billups said. “We have our talks and everything, and that will remain between us, but I don’t worry about that at all.”
That impression was echoed by a “high-ranking source” inside the team, whom the article quoted, saying firing Billups “hadn’t even crossed [their] minds”.
Quick also interviewed prominent players. According to the post, franchise cornerstone Damian Lillard indicated that he’s not a fan of blaming problems on a coach. Forward Jerami Grant was even more effusive in his praise:
“I’m ready to run through a wall for him, no matter what,” Grant said. “I’m looking forward to playing for him.”
Billups himself understands that his team is struggling, but believes there are other reasons besides his personal ability. Quick quotes Billups citing injuries and mid-season trades, also the front-office upheaval that accompanied the dismissal of former President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey:
“It’s been unbelievable … crazy,” Billups said of the upheaval. “How is that my fault? Last year I had so many coaches who are either in the league or past coaches saying, ‘Bro, I’ve coached 15, 17 years and I didn’t go through that once.”
When asked about how his coaching should be regarded, Billups responded:
“Phew. That’s tough. I mean, if you are judging me on wins and losses (he chuckles), then you know, I haven’t done a good job here,” Billups said. “But developing guys, culture, buy-in from guys, those things are probably fair areas to assess me on.”
Quick has many more quotes, and the article is well worth a read.